18/09/2014 - 11:18

Technology set to revolutionise construction training

18/09/2014 - 11:18

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Technology set to revolutionise construction training
Master Builders Association Victoria consultant Brian Welch says the system has been highly successful since its establishment last year.

The Master Builders Association is evaluating the possibility of establishing an immersive training centre in Perth, similar to a $14 million facility in Victoria, to boost safety and productivity in the construction sector.

The Victorian facility, known as the Building Leadership Simulation Centre, was established in October last year using technology originally developed in the Netherlands.

The centre, which was built in an old warehouse, comprises 12 site offices with associated 18 metre parabolic screens, to allow people to experience a specific building site as it would appear in the real world.

About 250 different scenarios can be experienced in the facility, with trained actors hired to interact with workers and test their reaction to different incidents that might occur on building sites.

Workers being put through their paces at the Victorian centre.

A four-year study of the technology in the Netherlands found a 90 per cent reduction in reportable occupational health and safety incidents after employees were trained in the facility, along with a 5 per cent fall in construction costs, and a 10 per cent improvement in construction quality.

Consultant to the Victorian MBA, Brian Welch, said the training centre was designed to lift productivity and improve the dissemination of the safe-working message.

“The reality is there is too much testosterone in the building industry,” Mr Welch told Business News.

“Listening skills are not strong, people aren’t trained to be effective leaders or managers, and they are given a position of responsibility and they feel the best way to accomplish things is by poking someone in the chest and telling them what to do.

“That doesn’t get engagement, that doesn’t get cooperation and it impacts upon the organisation and the way it runs.”

While a WA simulation centre remains at the concept phase of development, the potential facility could be tailored to provide realistic scenarios to train resources sector workers, in addition to housing and commercial construction employees.

“The level of sophistication allows site tours to look for reportable incidents and things that are wrong,” Mr Welch said.

“It’s an immersive training environment; you feel like you’re on a building site, and the experience and the decisions you make are a reflection of what you truly think.

“In a work sense, that’s very helpful because everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses and it allows both the person going through the training and the organisation they are with to help build upon those strengths.

“For the mining industry, which is striving to find ways to create an indelible message in people’s minds about safety, and how their leadership and supervisory people talk about and deal with safety, this is a tool which is perfect for their needs.”

The parabolic screens can be tailored to reflect individual companies' specific working environments.

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